I have a dark room, and wanted something that gave out a little ambient light and decorated the wall at the same time.
I painted the back black so light would not shine through where I didn’t want it. Then I whitewashed it, and let the colors drip.
Then I began cutting into the canvas.
This was a lot of trial and error. :)
It always is.
I wanted it to have two different looks: one in regular light, and one when it is backlit. (Upper right corner, above photos. I cut some shapes out, then covered it with this luscious handmade Nepal paper my friend got me for my birthday. Can’t see through it with the light out. Fun secrets!) I used a string of LED lights attached around the edge on the wooden canvas frame.
I went through a lot of Exact-o blades!!! This was done over the course of many days…
Some of the leaves I covered with plain tissue paper, others I covered with textured tissue paper. I used gel medium to attach everything.
I love the results. I think collage is going to be a part of my work more often!
I lost someone.
Not to death, but to misunderstanding, to pride, to hurt feelings and stubbornness. To inexperience, to not facing up to facts, to hardened hearts. To wanting honesty and getting back walls. To wanting real connection and finding they only wanted surface. I lost someone to denying. To sweeping-under-rugs until the rug could no longer be walked on. It feels like death, having this person out of my life completely. And looking to a future where that doesn’t ever change, no matter how hard I tried.
It’s hard to explain. Especially without dirt throwing. Without griping. Without hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth. Without wailing. Without crying. Without folding in on myself until I disappear.
My usual way is to talk it out. I have those people in my life, who I can go to and gnash and wail and they hold me and stroke my hair and validate my feelings and then I feel better. (I love those people. THANK GOD for those people. We take turns…sometimes they need to wail. It works.) But this time…it isn’t working. And I have talked myself hoarse. I have looked at all the angles. I have taken responsibility for where I messed up. I have lamented and grieved. And I still feel like utter shit. And this hole in my life gapes at me and swallows up in it all the happy things. I don’t want to lose any more of my happy things to this.
And I am even sick and tired of hearing myself talk.
So I search. I take advice and leadings wherever I can find them. Which, ironically, this time was the Oprah show, Lifeclass. (Really. I look everywhere.) Bishop T. D. Jakes was speaking to a couple who had just gotten divorced, due to the woman’s infidelity. And they were discussing if there was hope or not for the relationship, and the newly named ex-husband talked about not having any trust. Jakes said something that struck to the heart of it, for that man and for me. I wish I could find it online, so far I have been unsuccessful, but the gist of it was… His feelings were homeless. He had all these super big feelings of loss and despair and shame and betrayal and because his ex-wife wasn’t safe, wasn’t available…he had no place to put them. He had nowhere that he could land. He had no emotional home. He felt homeless. It resonated with me so deeply. And I knew here was a key for me to get stronger. An idea that might help me heal. Jakes told the man that it was okay, and that he needed to allow those feelings to just be what they were.
Then I started thinking about my homeless feelings, and what I could do to help this concept stick. I needed a visual. I needed to create a space for these feelings, some sort of home or shelter. I thought about a cage–something to hold them in and out of the way, but that isn’t really allowing them to be, is it? Images formed in my mind, hands holding them in a ball of light. Full hands are not usable hands, not reliable. A house? Should it be a house? A cave? Something that anchors me to earth? Then I was on my favorite time-suck, Pinterest, and I saw this lovely little sketch of a tree and a birdhouse. YES. A birdhouse is shelter. A birdhouse is safety. A birdhouse holds something in progress. It is a temporary place for something to hide while it is vulnerable. It guards and protects until it is no longer needed.
A birdhouse needs a good tree. Sturdy, strong, weathered. Good roots.
Some broken branches are okay. It shows the tree is a survivor.
The birdhouse needed to be pretty, for me. This isn’t a punishment, this isn’t a banishment. It is a place of comfort and rest. I put a nest there, too, in case this part of me needed a transition spot once it left the birdhouse. I surrounded myself with friends. Ones ready to encourage me. Ones I could hear singing from inside my shelter.
The surroundings needed to be beautiful, nurturing…we have a tree in my area that blooms these gorgeous purple flowers. That is where I would want to hang out.
I added the butterflies from my garden.
I invited all those feelings that were so raw and loud and squawking for attention to go to their new home. I spoke to the wounded spots, the worn out places, the shocked gasp of loss. I murmured to the rejection. I whispered to the shame. I invited them all to make residence here. I gave them a place to be. I reminded them that they could stay in there as long as they needed, but reassured them that they were not trapped. There is no door. As long as they stay, there will shelter and safety and nourishment and peace. And when they are ready, light and joy and space and freedom will greet them and follow them wherever they go.
Giving myself this permission, this place, has soothed my weary soul today.
Look, I don’t know if this will work long term. But I feel…calm. I feel safe. I feel like I have found a way to rest. I don’t know if it will last, but I can display this image in my space and try to bring my mind back to this shelter of love.
Maybe this imagery will help you too.
I hope it does.